San Francisco, CA - What started out as a legitimate business deal stalled before the buyer ever turned the ignition key.

“I went online looking for the block, all of the specifications were there,” Fraud Victim, Kehli Bowen said. “The website seemed legitimate. I actually made a phone call and I actually had a conversation about the engine.”

Kehli Bowen said he found exactly what he was looking for one the site

He told Consumer Alert he did his homework, talking to the seller directly and looking up reviews.

“He sent me an invoice, I think it was in a PDF form with letterhead and everything – so that was official too.” Bowen said.

He sent a personal check for $900.

“It had a delivery date on there and obviously we are sitting here so that never happened.” Bowen said.

Consumer Alert said John Keplinger owned the site.

“He claimed he was selling auto engines but he never sent them,” Christopher Stanton Hales, Assistant U.S. Attorney. “He took people’s money, cashed the checks and typically did not send what people had paid for.”

Keplinger’s business might have started with good intentions, but it quickly turned fraudulent or even worse, dangerous.

“They had not been tested, they had not been refurbished in the way he claimed that they had, so we had some victims who had their engines fail while they were driving on freeways.” Hales said.

300 victims lost more than $300,000 across the country. Bowen said he feels he did his due diligence and isn’t sure that he would do anything different.

“I called the number and had a conversation, (that’s a big thing for me) if I can hear a person’s voice it gives it some sense of legitimacy.” Bowen said.

However, Postal Inspectors said some simple searches can quickly uncover a scam.

“Find out where they are located, that’s actually a really good indicator,” Steve Basak, U.S. Postal Inspector said. “Check that phone number out. You can do a Google on the phone number and a lot of times that phone number comes out to be fraud.”

Keplinger was sentenced to 27 months in prison and ordered to pay $302-thousand dollars in restitution.